For comedian Munawar Faruqui the new year began with his arrest - purportedly for making indecent remarks against Hindu deities and Union Home Minister Amit Shah during a show in Indore. The Mumbai-based comic, along with four others were arrested after a show attendee created a furore and filed a complaint. Eklavya Singh Gaur, the son of a local BJP MLA had attended Faruqui's show and objecting to his remarks, brought the show to an abrupt end.
A brawl ensued, with the comedian reportedly being roughed up by members of the Hind Rakshak organisation before being taken away by the police. It is here that the story gets a tad murky. While Faruqui remains detained and has been questioned, reports suggest that he had never made the problematic comments in the first place.
Even as the police remain reticient about the ongoing investigation, the Indian Express quoted Kamlesh Sharma, the Town Inspector of Tukaganj Police Station to state that they have "no evidence against him for insulting Hindu deities or Union Minister Amit Shah". The videos submitted as evidence, according to the official, are of another individual.
This seems to be backed up by social media remarks made by another event attendee. An Instagram user by the name of Jenosha Agnes took to the social media platform stating that things were being misconstrued. "I was present in that show, and trust me no such thing happened," she claimed.
Following the altercation, many well known personalities have come out in support of Faruqui. The list includes fellow comedians such as Vir Das and Rohan Joshi, actor Kubbra Sait and even politicians.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter stating that the incident "shames us all". "As a democracy; as a country mature enough to enjoy a laugh; as a society that does not discriminate on the basis of religion; as a state system where the law and police work impartially. In none of these categories can we hold our head high," he tweeted.
There has also been massive support online from ordinary netizens. Many have taken to social media platforms calling for Faruqui's release and "SpeakUpForMunawar" has become a trending hashtag on Twitter. "Speak, before it's too late. Speak, before they come for you. #SpeakupForMunawar" read one post. Countless others have echoed similar sentiments.
Now to be fair, not all posts using this hashtag have the same point of view. While most of the comments seem to be supportive, for some others, religion seems to be the only factor to be taken into consideration. As a handful of users informed, Faruqui was "lucky" that the community he had angered was humane.
A few others have also resorted to what seems to be a favourite among Twitter users - whataboutery. From the Citizenship Amendment Act to atrocities against other people belonging to different communities - the comments run the gamut.